I don’t buy a word of this Yahoo Supermum dribble
There are many days when I wish I had been born a corporate psychopath. Watching Marissa Mayer’s first interview since giving birth to her son Macallister two months ago just reaffirmed those feelings.
Mayer is the former Google executive who controversially became Yahoo CEO while six months pregnant and returned to work after two weeks maternity leave.
“The baby’s been easy - way easier than everyone made it out to be,” Mayer told the mainly female audience at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women event this week.
“I think I’ve been really lucky that way but I had a very easy, healthy pregnancy. He’s been easy. So there have been two really terrific surprises: the kid has been easier and the job has been fun!” When I read those words I felt admiration and horror in equal measure.
Admiration because, well, how can anyone not be in awe of this woman? Yes she’s probably got so much hired help that someone picks out her shoes for the day but you’ve got to be impressed by the multiple use of the word “easy”, especially in the same sentence as the word “baby”.
The horror came with the realisation that an impossible benchmark had been set - yet again - for the rest of us working mothers.
When I got pregnant at 39, I planned to take six months off, max. I would be a superwoman who would juggle motherhood and work. I had no doubt it would be hard but I also had no doubt that I could do it. I was wrong.
From the moment my son was delivered by emergency caesarean at 35 weeks following a botched epidural, things went from bad to worse.
He weighed just 1.8 kilograms and spent the first few days of his life in an incubator, his neighbours a jaundiced crack baby and a sickly premmie born at 26 weeks.
My baby grew stronger by the day but I went downhill. I went to a couple of mothers groups but couldn’t connect with the women. I retreated from friends and family. Six months came and went. I told work that I’d probably need the full year off, after all.
I didn’t know I had post-natal depression until it had engulfed me completely. I developed a short-lived but spectacular drinking problem which ended in a stint in rehab.
Even if I’d been able to afford the round-the-clock nannies, cooks, chauffeurs and personal assistants that Mayer obviously employs to be able to do what she does, I don’t think things would have unfolded any differently.
When you have a baby, you grow new nerve endings. You don’t realise it’s possible to love another human being so much until you produce one. You would throw yourself in front of a bus to save your child. You can’t read stories about child abuse or kids with leukemia because they make you cry. You feel more and you fear more.
It makes me wonder what Mayer is feeling. Is she running on adrenalin? Ambition? Anti-depressants?
Mayer says the secret to her success is to “ruthlessly prioritise”.
“For me it’s God, family and Yahoo – in that order,” she told her audience.
Mayer has created the illusion of juggling work and motherhood when she is doing anything but. She’s not raising that child. How could she? From where I’m standing, her priorities are more like, “Yahoo, Yahoo, Yahoo.”
And she needs to come clean about it before another generation of women beat themselves up trying to achieve the unachievable.
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